Head colds are the worst, and suck even more when you’re an athlete, especially one who’s actually in a training block and sticking to a specific training plan or schedule. I just got home after a couple of weeks of travel, so lots of airports, rental cars, buses, hotel rooms and busy races and conferences. On top of that, add time zone shifts, nights with almost no sleep because of travel schedules, and huge shifts in temperature, from hot to cold and back again. You’d think I would learn by now… but no. Every year I get hit with the same super grumpy head cold as seasons shift. And pretty much everyone I know, athlete or not, has been struck with some kind of generic virus/infection/plague during the fall as seasons shift. But, what to do?
I just wrote about this in my newsletter, but I wanted to get into a bit more detail here about what I’m doing RIGHT NOW to try to get back to 100% faster.
When I get hit with a cold after travel, there’s often one common denominator: I have gotten at least a little bit dehydrated over the course of the days I’ve been on the road. I’m terrible for ignoring drinking enough while traveling, and then being on planes just exacerbates the situation. So did being in the super dry climate of Reno, NV, for a few days. So now that I’m home, that means I’m drinking a lot of tea. I like standard black tea, but I switch it up with vanilla-cinnamon and lemon-ginger as well, just so I’m not always adding in caffeine. It’s more about just always having a beverage next to me and ready to sip.
I swapped out one bottle of water that I sip in the morning for nuun’s new Immunity Support tablets, which have turmeric, echinacea, zinc, vitamin C plus electrolytes, and taste WAAAY better than Airborne, which I sort of (OK, really really) hate. I also am trying to eat a ton of fruits and veggies that are packed with vitamin C (plus other good stuff, like water!), and before I grabbed the nuun Immunity, I was taking Vitamin C — but I’d rather drink it, to be honest.
Add Essential Oils
I also started using Thieves Essential Oil — basically a combination of Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lemon and Rosemary essential oils. My sort-of-hippie-ish cousin recommended this a couple years ago and I’ll try anything to avoid a cold. She actually just uses it in a dropper and does two drops down her throat, and I’ve done the same, but don’t recommend that as a rule, especially not for sensitive people! So I still do that, but I also have been using my oil diffuser with it, which has the added bonus of making the house smell amazing and fall-like. Double win.
Take Training Easy
I’m not taking a week off of training or anything like that. But I am toning things down a little for the next couple days and avoiding any sprints or super hard efforts. I’m also trying to sleep a lot more, and making resting more of a priority. Still getting all my work done, but just being a little bit smarter about taking more time to just chill and snooze when possible! (Not always the easiest for me, especially after a hectic trip when I want to come back and get a million things done + get back to heavy training, but I know a couple days like this will put me in a much better spot by the weekend!)
This was the perfect week to start doing a bit more yoga again, which had been my intention anyway, and is now a top priority. I always do my morning flow, but now I’m sloooooowing it way down and trying to make it a bit more restorative versus fast-flow. I teach two classes on Mondays, just typical flow ones, and yesterday, we were just a lot more focused on slowing down postures and really getting into them and breathing. The people in my classes loved it, and I had a great time too—and felt way better!
Be Honest as an Athlete
As an athlete, you kind of know when you should take a day off, when you should push through, and when you’re just saying you need a day off out of laziness versus actually feeling the effects of a bad cold. There’s not really a great hard-and-fast rule about when to train through and when to pull back, so it’s really a personal thing. Just try to think rationally about it, and your personal tendencies. Are you more inclined to *want* rest days or days away from exercise? Maybe you should still train, but just slow it down, like doing yoga versus strength or walking versus running. If you’re more of a Type A go-hard, you may way to take a day off if you’re even contemplating it. A day or two off won’t set you back (I just wrote about detraining, so check that out if it freaks you out!).
Let me know in the comments, do you have any favorite things you do when you’re feeling under the weather?
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